York County approves resolution to make veterans cemetery on donated land

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — “We have about 125 in our post, but I understand in the three-county area, there are between 30 to 40,000 veterans,” says Melvin Poole the Senior Vice Commander of VFQ Post 3746.

And they could all have the chance to be buried in a veterans cemetery close to home after the York County Council approved the resolution during Monday’s council meeting. The county received a last minute 65-acre land donation from a York County couple named Thomas and Giavonni Purcell.

“Just a little bit about Mr. Purcell. He’s a retired chief warrant officer from the United States Army. He is a Huey Cobra Pilot, and he ended his career as a pilot instructor. So collectively the donation, they have 105 acres and they’re willing to give up to 65. Whatever works they said they will carve out whatever space to make this dream come true,” said Melinda Woodhurst of the York County Veterans Affairs Committee.

Poole is Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, and now he’s the Senior Vice Commander over VFW Post 3746, a place with several different heroes in the military.

“World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and then the middle east wars,” he said.

He says the nearest cemeteries are in Anderson, Buford, and Fort Jackson, each one over an hour away.

“It would be a big burden off of the families cause now when some of our veterans die, they don’t leave information for their families about what they want, they come to us and they have questions but no answers and we have to give them the directions we can give them and to tell them that “Yeah your loved one could be buried right here in York County” would be a big plus,” Poole said.

Woodhurst said there were three different criteria to qualify for the application to build a cemetery.

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“One of the minimum requirements for the application is the density of veterans in that community. York County is home to 28,000 veterans. Those veterans bring $180 million in Federal compensation to the area. The second factor is the distance to the closest cemetery,” she said.

“When you look at Cherokee, Union, Chester and Chesterfield [Counties], they collectively bring 14,000 to the 28,000 that are already here in York County. When you add the veteran population and who could benefit of having one in York County, the numbers are striking,” she added during the council meeting. 

The location of the cemetery would be in the southwestern part of York County.

The third aspect was the economic benefit it would bring to the county. Although the county approved the resolution, the federal government still must approve the cemetery’s location. However, there are five other counties competing for the opportunity to bring a cemetery to their area as well.

Woodhurst said the veterans populations in our area alone, outmatch the counties that are competing.

Poole said if approved, this would be an excellent thing that would happen for the county and the veterans. 

“First, It’s a place where veterans can go to lay for the rest of their lives, they don’t have to leave the county to go to a cemetery. Also, its close so their families can go back and visit them whenever they want to,” he continued.

If approved, it will still take about 3-5 years before the burials can begin.

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